History of the Maldives

The History of the Maldives is quite vague prior to its conversion to Islam in the year 1153, historians think that heavy stones with symbols of the sun, similar to Maya and Egyptian carvings show the existence of the maldives before this date and that these finds belong to the first settlers known as the Redin.

This civilisation who worshiped the sun king is confirmed by the location of some mosques [e.g. Hukura Miskiy in Male] that are orientated towards the sun instead of Mecca.

Buddhist sailors and fishermen coming from Sri Lanka followed by populations from West Africa, China and Arab countries are believed to be the first settlers to assimilate these islands and form the earliest known history of the maldives.

The Maldives would have been a meeting place for traders after a long navigation of the Indian Ocean with coconuts, fish and the famous cowrie shells among the numerous goods to be traded and sold at the time.

The cowries, are small white shells that were used as money in the Indian Ocean countries some of which have been found as far away as Norway and West Africa.

The Portuguese invaded the islands in 1558 and had a settlement there which lasted for 15 years, there are Portuguese cannons left from this time on show in Male.

Male was taken by Indian pirates in 1752 but were driven out after a few weeks by Maldivian soldiers.

In December 1887 the Sultan of the Maldives signed a contract with the British governer in Ceylon to turn the Maldives into a British protectorate, giving the Maldives military protection with no interference in their administation in return for an annual tribute.

The British established a RAF base on the Addu Atoll in 1957 where Maldivian people were employed but only lasted for 19 years as the British government decided it was to expensive, this old base now forms part of a new resort island and at the time of writing is the only resort south of the equator.

In 1965 the Maldives became an independant country and then 3 years later became a republic with Ibriham Nasir as president, in 1978 Maumoon Abdul Gayoom became president and had been re-elected six times untill the 2008 election when Mohamed Nasheed [pictured below] was elected to become the new President

Mohamed Nasheed

The president is head of state, head of the elective committee and head of the 48 members of parliament, the Maldives have belonged to the commonwealth since 1965 and from 1982 has been a UN member.

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